Malawi is vying in the category of 50 least developed countries (LCD) in the world to have recorded sluggish gross development product growth in the past five decades.
This is according to a 2021 LCD Report issued on Tuesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
It shows that while real GDP for the LDC group increased five-fold from roughly $200 billion in 1971 to $1,118 billion in 2019, it remains equivalent to an average growth rate of 3.7 percent per year, only slightly higher than the corresponding world average of 3.1 percent.
Combined, real GDP per capita for the countries expanded at a much slower pace of 1.3 percent per annum, rising from roughly $600 to $1,082 over the same period, according to the report.
The group accounted for about one percent of the world GDP, roughly the same share as in the early 1970s.
“Even more worrying, GDP per capita for the LDC group represented 15 percent of the world average in 1971, but by 2019 – the year before the onset of the Covid crisis – this had declined to less than 10 percent,” the report reads.
Malawi is ranked among nine countries expected to be growing by above 15 percent per annum if it were to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Recent statistics show that between 1994 and 2019, Malawi’s annual real economic growth rates have averaged 4.3 percent, within striking distance of the country’s population growth rate.
For instance, Vision 2020, which expired last year, was coined to direct Malawi towards reducing poverty but over half of the population are still living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day while about 20 percent are living in extreme poverty.
Experts’ reviews of the blueprint exposed Malawi’s inability to achieve a middle-income status with a per capita income of $1,000 (about K780,000) per year.
In an interview earlier, local economist Donasius Pathera said, while it was not automatic that higher economic growth rate entails reduced poverty, Malawi needed to come up with structural reforms and adjustments towards attaining sustainable economic growth.
“Inequality would always be there if there will not be some kind of transformational changes or adjustments, which the government needs to deploy now,” Pathera said.
In a separate interview, Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences-based economist Betchani Tcheleni said with a long-term development plan in place, the country is still heading towards creating wealth for all.
He, however, lamented the low pace the country had registered.